David Johnson

Date of Award

Fall 9-11-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 130 pages)


Wesley Everest (1890-1919), Centralia Massacre (Centralia Wash.) 1919, Collective memory -- Social aspects -- Washington (State) -- Centralia -- 20th century, Collective memory -- Political aspects -- Washington (State) -- Centralia -- 20th century, Industrial Workers of the World




The Centralia Tragedy of 1919 has been represented in numerous works over the course of the past 100 years. The vast majority of them concern the events of the day of the Tragedy, November 11, 1919, and whether a small group of Wobblies – members of a union group known as the International Workers of the World (I.W.W.) – opened fire on a group of parading American Legionnaires. This particular element, whether or not the Wobblies opened fire on the Legionnaires or the Legionnaires actually charged the hall where the Wobblies were staying, has generated significant concern in academic and popular literature since it occurred.

This study is less concerned with the events of the day itself, accepting that the full truth might not ever be known. It is instead focused on the collective remembering of that event, and how those recollections splintered into several strands of memory in the nearly 96 years since. It categorizes those strands into three specific ones: the official memory framework, the Labor countermemory framework, and the academic framework.

Each strand developed from early in the Tragedy’s history, starting with authors and adherents in the days after a 1920 trial. That trial, which declared the Wobblies guilty of the deaths of four Legionnaires while not holding anyone accountable for the lynching of Wobbly Wesley Everest, generated ample discord among Centralians. This lack of closure prompted the various aggrieved parties to produce books, pamphlets, speeches, protests and even a famed statue in Centralia's main park. Over time, the various perspectives congealed into the distinct strands of memory, which often flared up in conflict between 1930 and the present day.

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